Monthly Archives: June 2017

Lessons From the Philando Castille Shooting

The social media story is simple- Philando Castille was stopped for a traffic offense. He told the officer up-front that he had a CCW permit and was carrying a gun and the officer shot and killed him in front of his girlfriend and her small child. The girlfriend immediately live-cast the aftermath from her phone.

Mr. Castille was a law-abiding citizen and by all I have heard a decent guy who would never pull a gun on a police officer- or anyone else- inappropriately. The consensus was that this was apparently another incident of police over-reacting and shooting someone in a panic or ‘because he was black.’ But last Thursday it was announced that the officer who shot him was found ‘Not Guilty’ of all charges, and outrage resulted. The dash-cam footage has now been released, and I have watched this video a half-dozen times from different sources. The one that I feel gives you the best view of the incident is here- I have to say, this is some pretty raw stuff. Viewer discretion is definitely advised:

Combined Video

The video is ambiguous, but we clearly see the officer telling him not to reach for his gun more than once before drawing and shooting. I can offer no opinion here; I am not privy to all of the information the jury had in-hand and we have no way of knowing what the officer saw from his perspective. What we do know is that Mr.Castille did not inform the officer that he had a carry permit, and that it happened fast. We also know that a jury that was in possession of all of the available facts acquitted the officer of criminal wrong-doing. He may yet be subject to civil actions, but that won’t help Mr. Castille.

Without a doubt this was a horrific tragedy and a good man lost his life. I don’t know all of the facts, I don’t know what the jury knows that I don’t and I don’t know if the jury reached the right verdict. But I do know that there are lessons to be learned here- ones that could save your life if you legally carry a concealed firearm- or even if you don’t.

If you are pulled over by the police it is a good idea to have your ID, proof of insurance and Carry Permit already in your hand when the officer approaches, and keep your hands in plain sight. On top of the steering wheel is a good place to put them. Announce that you have a permit while handing your documents over before announcing that you are armed. Keep your hands in plain sight at all times and don’t initiate any movement except at the specific instructions of the officer. Do not move quickly or unexpectedly. Do exactly what you are told to do, do it when you are told to do it and do it slowly. If the officer says ‘stop’ freeze, and I mean right now.

Be polite and non-threatening. Stay calm and follow instructions, and whatever happens don’t resist. If they ask you to get out of the car do it. You do not need to consent to having your car searched; that’s up to you.

Maybe you feel the stop was unjustified. Maybe you feel the officer is being rude or obnoxious. Doesn’t matter and it doesn’t change a thing. You can count on this- if you make the officer fear for their life they will shoot you. Be calm, be non-confrontational and do what you are told. Be very, very clear on this: the place for justice- if it is to be had- is in the courts, not on the street.

Whatever your opinions on police over-reaching their authority, your personal liberties and how things ought to be is irrelevant in the moment. Feel free to air them in any and every appropriate venue. The middle of an interaction with someone who has a gun and will shoot you if you scare them enough is not such a venue.

Self defense is about survival, first and foremost. Not being shot will dramatically increase your chances of surviving. Be calm, keep your wits about you. Do everything in your power to make sure the officer feels safe and in control. We’ve seen what happens if you don’t.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 24 June 17

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Getting Real About Self-Defense

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I was reading a post on one of the gun forums that asked the question, “What is ‘enough’ gun?” The OP explained that he was referring to civilian self-defense. People tossed around their personal preferences, opinions and aired their prejudices. Then one fellow said he wouldn’t carry less than a high-capacity handgun with several reloads. What if he was faced with an armed gang? What if he was attacked by multiple men with rifles wearing armor and all he had was a J-Frame?

Seriously, you are more likely to be struck by a meteor than find yourself in a situation like that as an average citizen going about your business. His argument for this scenario was that you have to plan for the absolute worst-case. The thing is that we do not live in a Hollywood action movie. If you find yourself in that situation and try to fight with any handgun you are going to die if your attackers are not complete idiots.

As it happens I agree with him- you need to have a plan for even unlikely scenarios. But that plan should be based on reality, and in reality it’s not always smart to fight. Not to mention something that most people seem to forget- it’s not your job. You carry a gun for self-defense. Job one is to survive. Job two is to help as many other innocents as is feasible to survive. You are not obliged to single-handedly take on and defeat the baddies- your purpose is to live through the situation, and a gun might or might not help you do that.

You do possess a weapon far more important than your gun- your brain. Use it effectively and it will make the rest easier.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough gun to fight your way to victory then focus your efforts on fighting your way clear. Or better yet getting clear without fighting. I’ve commented on mass shootings before. These typically happen in crowded venues, and if you engage the shooter any bullet that doesn’t hit them will hit something. If there are a lot of people running around in a panic it’s reasonably likely to hit one of them.

You are not a cop. you are not a super-hero, and I hope that you are not a vigilante. In a mass shooting situation it is your job to extract yourself and ideally any other innocents that you can. If you are armed your gun is literally for self-defense while you extract yourself from the situation. The same can generally be said of bank robberies, drive-by shootings and other such incidents. It is not your job to take down the bad guys and trying to is likely to get you shot, either by the baddies or responding police.

This is not to say you should never intervene; situations can arise where where it is sensible and legitimately within the realm of ‘use of deadly force’ guidelines to do so. The classic convenience store robbery could be an example if you are reasonably sure that the perpetrator is going to harm you or another. That’s the bottom line, really; generally speaking you are allowed to use deadly force if you or another innocent are in imminent danger of loss of life or grave bodily injury.

Real life is not a movie or TV show, and things are often not as simple as they appear. You need to make sure that you understand the situation. Is the woman menacing that guy with a gun a victim fighting back or a deranged ‘ex’ looking for revenge? Is that person with a gun in their hand chasing someone a baddie, or an undercover cop?

Another thing to consider is what to do when the police arrive. You are most likely to survive if you do exactly what they tell you to do when they tell you do it. An officer just arriving on scene doesn’t know who you are or what you are doing, and they are likely to treat you as a suspect first and sort things out later. Don’t argue and for the love of God don’t resist. Just do as you’re told. Not getting shot by the good guys is also part of self-defense!

A lot of this comes down to basic firearms safety- make sure of your backstop, never point your firearm at anything you are not willing to shoot, keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire etc.

The most important thing is to think. Your mind is your first, best and most effective weapon- use it!

Michael Tinker Pearce, 14June17

 

Quick Update – .355/19R

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Ran 25 rounds through the Taurus m905 today- accurate, low recoil and no sign of trauma to the brass. Calling this one a win!  Next- load some more for Linda to shoot and start ratcheting up the power to see how much oomph the brass will take. I’d like to get up to .38 Special pressures, but with the tapered 9mm chamber bulging might become an issue.

I’m quite pleased with how this is working out.

Michael Tinker Pearce  9 June 17